Robot Wars was always one of my favourite shows, so imagine the glee I felt when the BBC brought the series back last year. While I might have been wary of the lack of Craig Charles in the reboot, over two series Dara O’Briain has won me over with his light-hearted, enthusiastic presenting style. Over the course of two series I, and many others have rediscovered a happy part of our youth. I mean, who doesn’t love watching robots bashing the living snot out of each other?
My beloved Chaos may not have yet returned to the show, but plenty of classic bots have returned to the wars. The likes of Behemoth and Razer have been doing the rounds for years. Indeed, Behemoth has given the world a glorious moment of nerd rage:
Not only do we have returning robots and teams, but everything about the show feels safe, like a nice old comfortable blanket from your childhood. The arena contains all the same hazards, House Robots and commentary on top of the show’s classic presentation. With the lack of classic robots, we have been able to discover new ones, and make new favourites of our own. Apollo’s flipper puts other robots to shame, Thor carries a powerful axe and Carbide’s spinner is so powerful it’s scary. People didn’t expect the insane power in today’s robots. We’ve seen House Robots flipped out of the arena, shards of metal embedded in the bullet-proof glass and parts of the arena dislodged. This isn’t to mention the level of destruction caused to many of the robots that enter the arena – plenty have been put in skips after fights. The new Robot Wars is exciting, loud and can be quite aggressive.
I love the show, and it serves as a personal highlight each year when on, but I do wish there was more of it. The six episode structure has been around for years in British television and Robot Wars is no different. Six episodes may seem extremely short to any American reader, but it ensures that no show outstays its welcome. Longer series can make a series drag on too long, making viewers lose patience and interest over the months. A longer series can mean more of a good thing if down well however, and generally can allow for more than six good episodes. Indeed, a short series has downsides too. They can leave you wanting more, and if one episode is poor, then a higher percentage of episodes will be bad rather than if one episode in a ten episode long series is a stinker. I think Robot Wars could do with more episodes.
As it stands, Robot Wars is short but sweet. I think it could be longer and even sweeter. The trouble is, the show is set out as a tournament, and it’s perfectly designed around the number of entrants they receive. They could add a further couple of episodes (and a few more robots), to help the series last that bit longer without compromising on quality. They’d have to adapt the numbers required for a final with the same numbers, but it is doable. Adding more episodes could prove tricky, numbers wise, but I’m sure the BBC could figure it out. As long as we don’t end up with a series that goes on for months like all the talent shows, then it will be fine. If they don’t add more episodes per series, they should show two series per year. This would help sell the show with two advertisement periods and if placed in the summer and the winter, it wouldn’t dominate BBC 2’s schedule.